For the first time in program history a Liberty men's singles player is ranked in the Top 125 in the ITA Rankings, as announced by the ITA this afternoon. Liberty junior Sam Matheson enters the ranking as the No. 106 ranked player in the NCAA.
Matheson's ranking accounts for the program's second nationally ranking. Jorge Azuero and Shea Thomas garnered national recognition as the No. 26 doubles tandem on Jan. 6, 2014, becoming the first Liberty recipients.
Matheson enters today's matchup against Winthrop with a perfect 12-0 record in singles action. He is coming off his most recent victory over Tendai Tapfuma of East Carolina, 7-6(7-1), 6-1, on Sunday as the Flames bested the Pirates by the final score of 4-2.
Matheson is one of 21 non-Power Five conference players represented in this week's ITA rankings. The New Zealand native is the lone Big South representative.
Matheson's ranking comes as no surprise with the No. 1 singles player rattling off 12 consecutive victories to begin the spring season. Matheson's spring success is directly correlated to what the junior was capable of doing in the fall season.
Matheson exceled on a historic run in the ITA All-American tournament in early October, finishing the event with a 6-1 record before being knocked out in the final match before the main draw.
Matheson was the first Flame to advance to the event's qualifier, defeating multiple Power Five conference opponents including Arkansas' Mike Redlicki, who is currently ranked No. 30 in the ITA rankings. Matheson defeated Redlicki in three sets, 6-4, 0-6, 6-3. The Liberty junior also handled Hugo Dojas of Texas Tech in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2. Dojas is currently ranked No. 116 but has reached as high as No. 94 this season.
Matheson looks to improve to 13-0 today and help the Flames improve to 8-7 and 2-1 in conference play this afternoon as Liberty hosts Winthrop at 2 p.m. at the Cook Tennis Center.
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